Events for the week

january 12
Sincerity Forever and The A Merkin Dream: Naked Mirror Productions presents two one-act plays together, the first a Southwest premiere by one of the country's leading dramatic innovators and the second a world premiere by a young pup in the theatre world. Dallas theater-goers are most familiar with Mac Wellman through the numerous productions of his work staged by Undermain Theatre. If you've never seen a Wellman play, you should be warned about two things--he usually dispenses with plot and creates absurdist comic frameworks on which to hang his scattered observations, and he is a writer so in love with language, it's the driving force of his pieces, not characterization or action. In other words, Wellman is a playwright who demands your undivided attention. Given that, and a director and cast who understand the intricacies of the material, you will be rewarded with an evening full of spectacularly articulated outrage aimed at the idiotic side of culture and society. His Sincerity Forever is a scathing attack against Jesse Helms and his merry-band of smut police, set in a social vacuum in which everyone knows for certain what constitutes a dangerous idea. A companion piece to Sincerity Forever is The A Merkin Dream, a one-man show written by and starring Don Rackett. The press material describes this one as "a look at the man of the '90s discovering his place on this planet." It also has "a Texas flair." Sincerity Forever and The A Merkin Dream are performed back to back Friday, 8:15 pm; Saturday, 4:15 & 8:15 pm; and Sunday, 7:15 pm through February 4 at the Swiss Avenue Theatre, 2700 Swiss Avenue. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 680-4466.

january 13
Irregular Pearl: Folks who are accustomed to classical music that's genteel, predictable, and with perfect pitch and tone might be in for a surprise if they stumble into the latest concert by Dallas chamber music ensemble Irregular Pearl. It's not that the instrumentalists here are less than proficient with the music--it's that the instruments on which they perform are deliberately archaic--models of the strings and woodwinds from the classical area, which weren't created to complement modern concert-hall sound systems, much less universally agreed-upon standards of sound. You'll be able to recognize compositions on the program for the group's "Clearly Classical" show, which includes quartets by Mozart and Haydn and quintets by Cambini and Bach, but you've probably never heard renditions quite like thesehaunting, otherworldly, with a rough edge here and there born of a passion for authenticity. Irregular Pearl performs at 3 pm in the auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. Tickets are $5-$7.50. For more information call 821-5049.

I Worst of All: The Major Theatre presents the United States theatrical premiere of a very controversial 1990 film by 70-year-old Mexican filmmaker Maria Luisa Bemberg, who received an Oscar nomination 10 years ago for her movie Camilla. A sort of psychological suspense thriller-romance-historical epic-tragedy rolled into one, I Worst of All, based on a novel by Latino literary great Octavio Paz, joins two subjects guaranteed to raise blood pressures--sex and religion. Paz's book and Bemberg's film explore the relationship between a real-life 17th century nun and poet, Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz (Assumpta Serna, who played the femme fatale in Almodovar's freaky sex comedy Matador) and the woman who inspired much of her most passionate verse, a viceroy's wife played by Dominique Sanda. Their intense but (initially) chaste romance plays out against the backdrop of the Inquisitions, a cultural force that eventually sucks them both in. The Major Theatre, located at 2830 Samuell, screens I Worst of All every evening except Monday at 8 pm beginning January 13, with Saturday and Sunday matinees scheduled. Tickets are $6. Call 821-FILM.

december 14
The Dream of Valentino: The Dallas Opera stages the Southwest premiere of Dominick Argento's The Dream of Valentino exactly a year after its world debut behind the footlights of the Washington Opera. Argento is the composer and Charles Nolte the librettist of this critically revered study of Rudolph Valentino, the most famous leading man of the silent film era and an actor whose world-wide image was quite close to the real man. In truth, Valentino was a man of insatiable sexual appetites, racking up a staggering number of lovers over the course of his short and turmoil-ridden life. Indeed, film historians and biographers have reached a near-consensus that Valentino's inability to keep his pants zipped contributed significantly to a long list of professional, financial, and personal woes. More than a few of these difficulties were set into motion by ex-lovers, either out of spite, jealousy, or an intimate knowledge of the weaknesses in the idol's personality that might easily be exploited for gain. Argento is a man who specializes in placing historical figures into eloquent, tragic dreamscapes born of their own imaginations, as anyone who caught the previous collaboration between he and Nolte, The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe, can attest. The Dream of Valentino gets its last performance at 7:30 pm at the Music Hall in Fair Park. Tickets are $20-$95. For information call 443-1000 or 373-8000.

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Jimmy Fowler